Volume 11, 2001
Social and Political Philosophy
Educating for Practical Reasoning
Some decisions can be made employing closed systems of practical reasoning. Other decisions require open systems of practical reasoning. These kinds of practical reasoning differ epistemically. Closed systems of practical reasoning can rely on thinking with a basis that is epistemically robust. Open systems of practical reasoning must also allow for thinking with a basis that is epistemically slight. In making moral and prudential decisions about what we are to make of our lives, we use open systems of practical reasoning that proceed by precept. Precepts are generalizations for use as premises in practical reasoning that may only be indirectly tied to empirical evidence. Intelligent selection of precepts may come from education in the arts and sciences. The twin towers of a liberal education offer the best hope for judgment in the practical reasoning that may help us to make the moral and prudential decisions that are our concern.